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Non-Prog CD Reviews


Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - Live in Birmingham 2016

Review by Gary Hill

This live album from the new incarnation of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow is a solid set. It's also the companion to the video I reviewed in the last issue of Music Street Journal. I think this performance is vital and really manages to do a great job of capturing the Rainbow magic. Chilean born Ronnie Romero is the lead singer here. He really is quite capable. He's not Ronnie James Dio (in my opinion the best singer Rainbow ever had) but he actually comes pretty close.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
CD 1

Highway Star

The introduction on this is a sound-clip from the "Wizard of Oz." Then the band powers out into a hard rocking bit of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." They take it from there into a killer rendition of the Deep Purple classic.

Spotlight Kid

I dig the organ sound on this. The guitar lines are strong, too. Then again, it's Blackmore, so I suppose that goes without saying. This song just doesn't gel as well for me as the previous one did. The instrumental section later in the track elevates it, though. There are some weird bits that are a little off-kilter. There is some cool old world sound on some of the soloing.


I've always been a big fan of this stomper. This live rendition certainly does it justice. I still prefer Dio's vocals on this cut, but there are no complaints here.

Since You Been Gone

Although Rainbow didn't write this, they had a big hit with it. This live version is very much in keeping with that rendition of the tune. It's a solid rocker that holds up well.

Man On The Silver Mountain

Here they deliver another Rainbow classic. This has always been a favorite of mine. They turn in a scorching hot rendition here. Once more Dio is missed, but this is pretty awesome.

Soldier Of Fortune

A bit of acoustic guitar soloing starts this piece. It works out from there to a balladic sounding movement. This gets hard rocking at times, but is essentially a power ballad.

Difficult To Cure (Beethoven's Ninth)

As you can guess by the parenthetical, this includes a rock arrangement of Beethoven. There is also a drum solo built into this. Of course, that makes sense because there is room for all the instrumentalists to get a bit of solo time. It's an instrumental that shows of the classical, prog based leanings of the act while still managing to rock.

Catch The Rainbow

This extended cut from the early days of Rainbow works really well here. It starts mellow and gradually builds into a powered up rocker before it's done.

CD 2

Perfect Strangers

When Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers album was released I was working in a record store. As soon as we got it in, we opened a copy for store play, and I was hooked. I love every single song on the album, and this is a great live rendition. They throw a bit of the classic Rainbow tune "Gates of Babylon" in on the instrumental section at the end.

Long Live Rock "N" Roll

This is the title track of the album that originally featured "Gates of Babylon," the connection is obvious. They put into a killer live rendition of this, another classic. They add a cool crowd participation section into the middle of this.

Child In Time

This starts with some cool keyboards. The tune works into more rocking territory. This is really a classic Deep Purple song, and this rendition makes it feel a bit more like a Rainbow tune will still preserving much of the original magic. The screaming section on this doesn't seem to rise to the same kind of heights as on the original. Still, this works well.


Here is another Rainbow classic. They deliver a killer version of this. It seems a bit more direct and guitar dominated in some ways, but I haven't heard the studio version in a while. That said, I like this live rendition a lot.

Black Night / Woman From Tokyo

With a bit of an audience sing-along section at the start, the guitar brings it in from there. This is another classic rocker delivered in great fashion in this live Rainbow rendition. The guitar brings "Woman from Tokyo" in the mix around the four minute mark. They drop it way down from there allowing for the band members to be introduced. For my money, "Woman from Tokyo" is a bit overdone, so I'm kind of glad that they never really go into it for real, just keeping it as a bit of an instrumental nod.


I've always been a big fan of Deep Purple's Burn album, and this song in particular. It's a screaming hot cut that just plain rocks. This rendition does it justice for sure.

Smoke On The Water

Here's a song that's been played into the ground over the years. Still, they do a rather fresh version and it rocks out pretty well. All in all, it's perhaps not the highlight of the show, but sort of something they had to do. I dig the guitar solo on it quite a bit.

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